Changing finance: new this month – March

Our monthly round-up of news, ideas and initiatives related to transforming the UK financial system for people and planet, compiled by the Lab’s CEO, Jesse Griffiths.

War in Ukraine and dirty money

How has the British legal system helped Russian oligarchs and Putin? The UK government was certainly slow to react. Only focussing on Russian oligarchs is a mistake that ignores the wider problems. Here’s a 10-point plan for dealing with oligarchs’ hidden assets.

The new Economic Crime Act tackles some longstanding issues, including more transparency for offshore property owners. But the Act has some glaring gaps. What about the lawyers, accountants and other professionals who enable dirty money to flow through London? Strengthening law enforcement would also help. And how well is crypto complying with Russia sanctions?

Here’s how European banks and investors have enabled Russian state power by financing Russian oil and gas. Meanwhile, campaigners are focusing on financial institutions yet to withdraw from Russia, particularly those funding Russian fossil fuels, including HSBC. There’s a lot more banks and financial institutions can do to divest from and stop supporting Russian oil and gas.

How is the war threatening the global financial system?

And more on financial crime

The Credit Suisse leaks expose an industry that has got away with too much for too long.

Got a bit more time? New book Butler to the World reveals how the UK financial system came to service the oligarchs, kleptocrats and gangsters. Less time? Here’s the Led By Donkeys campaign on this.

Let’s not forget the climate crisis 

The latest IPCC report confirms climate change is worse than we thought and happening faster than we expected. But what can we all do about it? Let’s start with hopeful news: the insurance giant Swiss Re has taken a major step forward in making new fossil fuels uninsurable. Watch this great panel discussion with Joe Stiglitz and others on how we can finance the green transition to net zero (while also levelling up).

We can also get better informed: here’s how to understand what banks’ climate targets really mean, why fossil fuel expansion is a lose-lose bet for banks and their investors, and a great guide to upcoming investor votes on climate for the AGM season. You can also play with this new tool to find out how top banks, investors and insurers rate on oil and gas policy.

But let’s not hide from the problems. Fears are rising that green bonds might turn out to be greenwash bonds. And international investors are funding the destruction of the Amazon. That’s why we need this new campaign to stop pensions funding deforestation.

Finally, HSBC and Barclays are still coming under fire for poor climate performance [sigh].

Finance and exclusion

As many struggling households turn to expensive, dangerous loan sharks, responsible alternatives need more support to take their place.

How thousands of steelworkers were the victims of pension regulation failures.

Citizens Advice has found a £280 ‘ethnicity penalty’ in car insurance. And banks still have a long way to go on diversity.

Meanwhile, the ultra wealthy are having a field day.

A lotta regulation goin’ on

A post-Brexit ‘race to the bottom’ in UK financial regulation would be a bad strategy. That’s why 37 civil society organisations published a joint statement in response to the government’s proposed Future Regulatory Framework for financial services. Here are five reasons you should care about this massive regulatory shake-up. Especially if you care about the climate.

The nickel market had to stop trading after prices surged 250% in two days – here’s why it needs an overhaul.

Did you know that two countries have already launched Central Bank Digital Currencies? Here’s an update on the global state of play for CBDCs.

After an independent review said ringfencing has worked but might not be necessary in future, its architects warn against scrapping it.

Shocking stat: 60% of UK pension advisers have quit in the last three years.

And finally…

What the rich don’t tell the poor. Find out how insecure you are compared with the rest of the UK.

How to do feminist systems change. Have you seen the gender pay gap bot?

And how do you influence a government?